Cllr Joe Malone
At least two local councillors have committed to not putting up any posters in the May local elections, but others have expressed concern over the implications a ‘poster ban’ would have for new candidates.
Councillors Joe Malone and Malcolm Noonan have said they will not be using posters due to environmental concerns, but they respect the right of others to do so. At the March meeting of Kilkenny City Municipal District, a Notice of Motion brought by Cllr Malone called on the members to agree to a voluntary poster-free election in the city and environs. The Fianna Fail councillor said he would be donating his poster fund to local charity Teac Tom instead.
The motion was seconded by Cllr Breda Gardner who said she did not use any posters during her successful 2014 local election campaign as a newcomer.
Cllr David Kennedy said the Sinn Fein group would be opposing the motion.He said an election without posters would result in a very low turnout, and would disadvantage smaller parties and independent candidates.
“I commend Joe for being able to put away funds for a great charity, but Joe is very well known,” he said.
“Other candidates don’t have the same recognition, and not everyone is on social media.”
Council director of services Tim Butler clarified that the Municipal District did not have statutory powers to stop people putting up posters, and any such arrangement would be a voluntary one. By-laws could be looked at, but they would likely not be in place in time for the May election. There already exists a gentlemen’s agreement in relation to not postering certain core city routes such as High Street, although the limits of this have been tested in recent years.
Cllr Patrick O’ Neill said it had become a hot topic in recent weeks, but he felt a restriction on poster numbers might be a more realistic measure. He said that as a newcomer in 2014, posters had made a difference, and that all of his posters were reused in some way — by art groups, or farmers to make pens, and others.
“There’s none left, and there was none thrown out,” he said.
The Bennettsbridge councillor said that a lot of people might not know there was an election on, but the minute that posters went up they began to think about it.
Cllr Sean Tyrrell said the Notice of Motion was quite late in the day given the proximity of May 24, and it should have been brought in the wake of the 2014 Local Elections. Cllr Malcolm Noonan said he had no problem supporting the motion, but he respected the right of other candidates to put up posters.
Cllr Andrew McGuinness said that only five of the councillors in the room would be seeking re-election in Kilkenny City, with the rest in the new Callan-Thomastown area. He said he would like to see a poster-free election some day, but it had to be one rule for everyone.
Cllr David Fitzgerald said the days of single-use plastics were coming to an end, and he would not be using single-use corriboard posters in his campaign. He said he would be opposing the motion on the basis that democracy is best done in public, but urged people not to poster the city centre, and to remove any cable ties they use.